Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Keira - August Edition

Santa Clara, CA - It's that time again! Time to post a few more photos of the nugget. I don't have all that many photos this month. It's getting harder and harder to remember to pick up the camera and use it. I blame the problem on her being so damn cute all the time, that one tends to get used to it. Also, she is at this stage where every time I point the camera she tends to crawl towards me and grab the lens. I have to learn to move faster.

Speaking of moving faster... Keira has now officially mastered crawling and can move quite quickly across a room, over obstacles (like dad), and if she is headed towards any object you might deem unsafe of dirty, her speed can sometime double or triple. A favorite game of her's now is to get Mom or Dad to chase her around the couch. She is also able to pull herself up on just about anything now and is working on walking while holding on to stuff.

Favorite games right now, include banging blocks together, peek-a-boo, and pulling stuff off the shelves. The top of the coffee table is no longer a Keira safe zone.

Suwei and I have finally bought a small video camera and should have some videos to post next month. I'm having the same problem there as I have with the film camera. Each video is about 15 seconds long as she crawls towards the camera and grabs at it the instant I start filming. I just need to get a little more sneaky.

Anyway, here are some photos from August:

As usual there are more photos in the slide show.  Just click the link below:

Keira - August Edition

Monday, September 19, 2011

Backpacking Trip to Merced (Chiquito) Peak, Yosemite, CA

Santa Clara, CA - Suwei and I have kind of dropped off the map in the last month or so. We were supposed to go camping up near the Sierra Buttes in August and we had planned to go to Mexico for 10 days in September, but we didn't end up doing either of those things. Instead, since late August, I've been a bit house bound with a somewhat severe case of tummy trouble.

This is your bile duct on Giardia
Anyway, just last week, after seeing a bunch of doctors, going through a tons of tests, and eventually having a biopsy done on my bile duct, we finally figured out what it was that was causing me so much pain. I have Giardia. I don't recommend it. It kind of sucks. Basically I have not been able to digest any fats, grains, roughage, or pretty much anything else that needs bile to break it down, for the last month. The good side of this is that I'm losing weight. The bad sides are that I'm losing weight at a very unhealthy rate.  Then there is the pain, the nausea, fevers, low energy, and a bunch of other things that make each day a little less pleasant.

I figure I must have picked it up on my last backpacking trip to Yosemite early in August. It was one of Arturo's trips, which meant we were going to walk a long way and up a fair amount of elevation. I had decided to go ultra-light and wanted to try out my new SteriPEN that Brian and Andrea got us. The SteriPEN is proven 99.9% effective for giardia. Either something went wrong or I'm in that lucky 0.1%.

Besides picking up a case of giardia, the worse mosquitoes I've seen in years and years, and the fact that we missed the peak we were aiming for, the trip was still a heck of a lot of fun. I'll still recommend it, just don't skimp on water filtration and bug spray.  Here are a few photos and details from the hike:

Trail head: Chiquito Pass Trail Head - Elevation 7200 ft
Planned Destination: Merced Peak - Elevation 11,726 ft
Actual Destination: Merced Chiquito - Elevation 11,558 ft.
Distance: ~ 15 miles each way

Driving Directions: Here is a link for much better directions than I care to give (  Please note that we started at the Chiquito Pass trail-head instead of the Quartz Mountain trail-head.  Starting a Chiquito Pass ads a couple of miles to the hike, but significantly shortens the drive.

High Water at Chiquito Lake
Trail Description: I must say the first 7 miles or so of this trail are not all that interesting as they are mostly wooded and offer no significant views. However, it goes by quickly as the elevation gain is so slight you hardly even notice it. At mile 2 you reach Chiquito Lake and at mile 3 you realize you just walked past Chiquito Pass.  Aptly named, Chiquito Pass is pretty much a non-event and you wouldn't even know it was there if there wasn't a sign just beyond it marking the southern border of Yosemite National Park.

Chiquito Pass and the Border with Yosemite National Park
After Chiquito Pass, the trail climbed steadily, but not significantly, to the Chain Lakes Trail intersection at Mile 7 (8700 ft). The next 2 miles offered a few ups and downs and a stream crossing or two, but before we knew it, we had made it to the very pretty Moraine Meadow and another trail intersection at mile 9. We took the trail east keeping our eyes out for a use trail heading up the left side of the South Fork of the Merced River. As it was, we missed the use trail, found the river and followed that upstream. The trees were beginning to thin enough that travel off trail was not difficult. On the way back the next day, we found the use trail and saw how easily one could miss it. It's much further north of the river than we expected.

Following the South Fork of the Merced River
Off trail we followed the Merced River up to another very pretty meadow at about 9600 ft. (mile 11.5?). The Mosquitoes were quite bad at that point, so we sprinted across the meadow and up to a rock shelf on the north side hoping to avoid them. No such luck. It was a little better, but not much. Anyway that is where we set up camp.

Johannes Makes his way up a very Scenic Ridge, Merced Chiquito Peak, Yosemite National Park.
Climbing the Peak:  The next morning we set out across a frosty meadow to the granite slabs just east of the river.  We followed the gully up past the point where the river petered out.  We continued up a series of slabs to the left of the now dry gully until we reached a large bowl.  This is where things got tricky.  Up to this point we really couldn't see the Peak.  As it was, what we thought was the peak actually wasn't.  Honestly, we didn't know we had made this mistake until we were standing atop the wrong peak.  From the bottom of the bowl Merced Peak looks like a high spot on the ridge.  The point we aimed for looked very peak like, but was actually a heretofore un-named high spot on the ridge (see fig. what-the-#$Y*! below).  Arturo, who is usually well stocked with GPS, maps, etc. was not happy.  Although I think the spectacular view and the fact that it was still a very cool spot cheered him up a bit.  We liked it so much we dubbed it, "Merced Chiquito Peak." 

Arturo atop Merced Chiquito with Merced Peak Directly Behind Him.
Unfortunately although we were only 168 feet below the actual peak, there were still a number of snow fields to cross and a tricky ridge to follow before we could reach it.  After a great deal of discussion we decided against an epic and headed back down the way we came.  I predict a return trip soon.

More photos:

We Camped on the Rock Shelf to the right of this Meadow.
We Learned that Mosquitoes Love Orange / Dinner on the Shelf

Alpenglow Above the Meadow 

Climbing Merced Chiquito / Johannes Navigates Part of the Ridge Between Merced Chiquito and Merced Peak.

fig. what-the-#$Y*! - Can you spot Merced Peak?  Hint:  It the one to the left of the photo.
The Hike out through Moraine Meadow
Thanks again to Arturo for organizing! We'll try again soon, maybe from a different direction. Preferably one with less Giardia.

Here is a link to the slide show:

Backpacking to Merced Peak, Yosemite National Park, CA

And here is a link to Arturo's slide show:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Burning Man 2010, Black Rock City, NV

Bliss Dance in a Sand Storm, Burning Man 2010.
Departure Dinner
Santa Clara, CA -  As I write this, other folks are busy getting their gear together for Burning Man, 2011.  It's taken me over a year to go through, process and label these pictures.  Not that I'm been working on them for that long... far from it.  It's just that Suwei and I have managed to keep very, very busy as always, and well, baby pictures have kind of trumped all else.  Anyway, I figured I better work on the BM 2010 photos before BM 2011 comes and goes, or I might never get them posted. 

First off, I have to thank my amazingly understanding wife for putting up with my Burning Man fetish. The last time I attended was in 2008, a month before our wedding.  In 2010 Suwei was 6 months pregnant and starting a new job when I skipped off to the desert.  I think I went well into a deficit points wise on that one.  I'm not sure if there will be a "next time" in my future.  2010 was my 6th year at Burning Man and probably my last one for a while.  We'll see.  Never say never.

2010 started off like all of my previous years, with the arrival of Gary from the old world.  We wandered around town gathering up his dusty gear from dusty corners of dusty garages. We went out to dinner with burner friends from the past who wouldn't be making it out to the playa.  We stuffed the truck to brim, stacked more stuff on top and finally set off towards Reno.

Setting up Camp the First Day on the Playa.
Stormy Monday on the Playa and a Spectacular Double Rainbow at Camp

Our camp this year was again a much slimmed down version of past years.  We never did really come up with a decent name for the camp as everyone seemed to like, "Gary's Tent Camp", except for Gary.  Camp not to be called Gary's Tent Camp was made up of Gary, myself, Matt, Dawn and Tom.  Hilda was also an essential part of camp, although she never stayed for too long, choosing to share her love with other well deserving camps.

Camp Not to be Named Gary's Tent Camp with Gary, Matt, Hilda, Dawn & Tom

As always, it's hard for me to write about Burning Man.  First off it's an event that's incredibly difficult to describe.  I've tried.  Yes, it's a music and arts festival, yes it an impromptu community of sorts, yes it's a drug fuel orgy of hedonistic pursuits, but.... and here's where it gets difficult.  It's more.  But that sounds lame.  So, I'm going to stop right there and say what I say to most people who ask me what Burning Man is like.  Go.  Check it out.  If you like it, go again.  Try to describe it in a blog post.

I have found that the best way to share my experiences at Burning Man is by taking photographs. And even that misses the mark by leaps and bounds.  The last couple of times I've attended the event I've gone for a full 8 days.  I figure if I'm going through all the trouble of getting out there, I might as well experience all of it. In those 8 days I spend very little time actually wielding a camera. I tend to make a few trips out of camp specifically to take pictures. The rest of the event I don't want to be burdened by trying to document what's going on. Because of that, my photos are mostly about the art. It's easy to point a camera at a piece of art. I also try to capture some of the emotions I've felt at other times during the event, but that is much, much harder. I'm not really that good of a photographer. So, you get mostly art.  Here are some of my favorite art shots:

The Honey Trap by ANIMUS with the Disorient Art Car behind it.
rePIANOproject by Dave Aiazzi, Dolores Aiazzi and Leah Chubb
Intersection by James Reagent, Charles Fields, and company
Dragon labyrinth by Sharon Strong.
Random art at Center Camp
Cultivated shoe tree by Merrilee Proffitt.
OINK by Laura Kimpton, Jeff Schomberg and Celtic Forest Crew
Wish by Rob Buchholz.
There are tons more photos in the slide show (164 to be exact). If you care to check it out, the link is at the bottom. In the mean time I'll share a few more of my favorites.  These next photos were all  taken at the Temple of Flux:

Tom at the Temple of Flux

Some shots from my Wednesday Night Photo Ride

So, it's been like 5 days since I've started this post.  I've been working on it here and there when I get a little time.  The results I think, are a rambling mess.  I really need to either write something intelligent or just hit publish before I end up posting all 164 photos up here.  Blame starvation!

T-Shirt Shelter / Bliss Dance by Marco Cochrane with Balloon Chain by Robert Bose / Feet up in Deep Playa / Flurry on the way to Megatropolis / Superman Gathering at the Man / The Honey Trap by ANIMUS / Dawn's Birthday Gathering

360 Degree Panorama of Center Camp
2010 like most years, blew me away.  I love it out there, and honestly, I think you savor it a bit more when you miss a year.  As always Saturday crept up on us way too quickly and before we knew it the Man was all set to burn.  That day we had a lot of dust storms and the wind was still blowing as the sun went down.  Everyone was waiting to see if the dust and wind would die down enough for a 100 ft. bonfire.  We hung back a bit from the madness, much like we did in 2008.

Well, sometime between twilight and dawn the fireworks started, the man was lit, and all hell broke loose.  We had a decent view at the beginning.  We saw a good deal of the fireworks.  But, just before the Man caught fire, the dust went mad!  Visibility went to zero as the sand and dust gave us the exfoliating of our lives.  I felt sorry for the poor camera, but each time the dust cleared enough to get a glimpse of the Man, I quickly took of the lens cap and snapped another shot.  Fire, wind, dust, repeat... What a rush!

After a while we lost sight of the Man completely.  Then the crowd began to appear from the glowing cloud in front of us.  Time to wander off into the night.
Burn Night
Sunrise after the burn
On Sunday night we all gather up for the burning of the temple.  This time we got there early and got in close.  The weather was much better and the mood (as always with the temple burn) much mellower.  It's my favorite way to end the week.
The Temple Burn
Matt, Gary & Hilda.  I'll miss you guys this year!
Well that turned out to be a major post. I love, love, love taking photos at Burning Man. If you liked these photos, please check out the slide show for tons more. Also, here is a link to my post for 2008 for some older photos:
Burning Man 2010